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REVIEW: Wilfred at Newcastle Alphabetti Theatre

Newcastle Alphabetti Theatre
Tuesday 24th - Saturday 28th October &
Wednesday 1st - Friday 3rd November 2017

Wilfred is in a field hospital during the Great War. Married with twin boys, the young corporal has the additional responsibility of choosing the men who will go on special missions.  This new drama examines the effects of a mechanised war on the young combatants.

We are in a four year period marking the 100th anniversary of World War One. It was regarded by some as the forgotten war. Compared to WW2 and Vietnam a limited number of films and dramas looked at this particular conflict. In 2014 we had a small number of revivals of shows about the period and the likes of Accrington Pals and Birdsongwere fairly tame treatments when compared to, say, the opening sequence of Saving Private Ryan. As time has gone on, new writing has re-examined the period and the results are productions which are more visceral, have greater urgency and poignancy. Wilfred is another example of writing which is respectful to the fallen and their sacrifice but also willing to share the horror.

Wilfred is dedicated to Alfred Kitching, who is writer Gary Kitching’s great grandfather. Alfred was killed in combat on The Spring offensive in 1918. Gary has produced a fine script which looks at the effects of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder but also leaves some room for the humour that is also the part of the human condition.
Jack Lloyd appears as Corporal Wilfred and he gives a very physical performance of the turmoil that Wilfred faced. The nightmares didn’t necessarily stop when he woke up. Megan Robson completes the cast as Nurse Syrup, the caring provider of clean sheets and sweet cups of tea.  The role of a nurse included that of being a good listener and much of the evening’s humour came from Wilfred’s attempt at poetry. The change in the political landscape is also hinted at as the Nurse’s reason for training is given as Pankhurst’s call to support the fighting forces.  She asks about the soldier’s feelings about Suffrage, he doesn’t really give a reply.

Director Paula Penman keeps a tight, intelligent, reign on the pace of the piece. There are moments of quiet reflection in the dialogue and there are moments of intense action.  The show is another fine example of the great work that now gets a platform thanks to Alphabetti’s programming policy. Running just under an hour, this show would work well if it was to go to Edinburgh Fringe.

Wilfred is a gripping examination of a young soldier’s stay in hospital. Torn between his roles as a family man and a leader of a fighting group he also has to face his own personal demons. Jack Lloyd and Megan Robson give a great performance.

Review by Stephen Oliver

Wilfred appears in a double bill with Walter, which is suitable for ages 8+  See the Preview for details:

Tuesday 24thOctober – Saturday 28th October at 4.00pm.
Wednesday 1st– Friday 3rd November at 6.00pm.
Age recommendation 8+
Running time: 45 minutes BOOK ONLINE NOW 

Tuesday 24thOctober – Saturday 28th October at 7.30pm.
Wednesday 1st– Friday 3rd November at 7.30pm.
Age recommendation 16+
Running time: 55 minutes BOOK ONLINE NOW

Tickets £8.00/£6.00 concessions                             
Get £2.00 off if you book both shows

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